All visitors to Thailand must show proof of at least two Covid-19 vaccinations under revised rules that coincide with the revival of travel from China, authorities said on Thursday.
As well, visitors who will be travelling onward from Thailand to a country that requires a negative RT-PCR test result must provide proof of insurance. This will ensure that they can meet the costs of their treatment if their test in Thailand is positive, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters.
China still requires a negative PCR test result no older than 48 hours prior to arrival for all incoming travellers. India this week imposed a similar mandate for visitors from five countries: Thailand, China (including Hong Kong), South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
Thailand last October scrapped the requirement for proof of vaccination and antigen test results as well as health insurance. However, officials believe that as people resume travelling from China in large numbers, the prospect of people in many countries contracting Covid-19 will rise.
New measures are necessary because Thailand is a major destination for travellers from many countries including China but the measures must be non-discriminatory, Mr Anutin said.
“The principle is there will not be any discrimination against a particular country because Covid-19 is spreading in all countries and the strains are similar. So, Covid-19 should not be an issue of discriminating against any country,” he said.
Mr Anutin made the comments following a meeting involving officials from the ministries of Public Health, Transport, Foreign Affairs and Tourism and Sports. They were joined by representatives from the Office of the Insurance Commission and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
He did not say when the new measures would take effect but officials said they should start before the arrival of Chinese visitors.
China on Sunday will scrap quarantine requirements for people entering the country, which is expected to open the floodgates for travel abroad by millions of Chinese residents. However, in the first few days and weeks, limited flight capacity is expected to keep visitor numbers low.
Suttipong Kongpool, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, said the first scheduled flight from China would arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan 12. In the first three months of this year 15 Chinese airlines would operate 15 flights a day to Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai and Phuket airports, he added.
China was by far the country’s largest tourist source prior to the pandemic, accounting for more than 11 million of the 40 million international arrivals in 2019.
Mr Anutin said that people who have respiratory illness should consider postponing their travel until they make a full recovery in order to reduce chances of disease transmission.
Visitors who will be travelling to countries that require proof of a negative PCR test should stay at hotels with standard disease control measures and Covid-19 test services, he added.
Health authorities, he said, would continue monitoring the local Covid situation and could adjust measures to cope with changing risks.
Authorities in tourist provinces should prepare their hospitals and hospitels, while employees of tourism and transport services should have at least four shots of Covid-19 vaccine, Mr Anutin added.